I have to admit I’ve had the Doctor Who theme song running through my head for a few days. It’s because we’re getting closer and closer to the 50th anniversary episode of the show, entitled Day of the Doctor. Excitement ramped up even higher after the Paul McGann-headlined prequel episode Night of the Doctor was released. As part of the celebrations, the episode is being released in the theatres in 3D in a bunch of places, including in my hometown of Perth. Normally, I’m a bit of an anit-proponent of 3D, but I’m giving into the lure of the fannish opportunity, and planning on forking out the $$ to go and see this.
Now, I’ve posted elsewhere about what my hopes are for this 50th anniversary year, but I was thinking about what I actually expected to see on screen, whether I wanted to or not. So these are my guesses or predictions, which we’ll see confirmed or denied quite soon.
1. An Original Title Sequence – which, in spite of my normal prejudices, I expect to look fully amazing in 3D.
2. A Regeneration – I recently read an interview with showrunner Steven Moffat talking about Night of the Doctor in which he mentioned that as a fan as well as a writer, he wants “every box ticked,” including seeing all the regenerations, on screen. He was talking specifically about seeing Paul McGann (the 8th Doctor) regeneration into John Hurt (the mysterious War Doctor), but of course that still leaves the regeneration from Hurt to Christopher Eccleston to be seen. Now, it’s been pretty publicly stated that Christopher Eccleston (the 9th Doctor) won’t be showing up in the special, and unfortunately I believe that. But via all sorts of special effects & editing trickery, we could still see this regeneration after some fashion, and I believe we will.
3. Billie Piper’s role as Rose Tyler will be a bit of a let-down – I’m not sure what I actually want to see of this, but the trailers seem to show the revival series’ original companion, Rose, only in some sort of energy-filled trance, kind of like her turn toward the end of the first series with that whole “Bad Wolf” thing. She is also shown only with the War Doctor, giving him cryptic comments or goading him into action. It looks to me like a bit of a plot exposition role, to give John Hurt’s character someone to talk to. I’m sure Billie Piper have some fun scene in there someplace, but my impression is that she’ll spend most of her time being semi-possessed, and not actually playing Rose.
4. A surprise familiar face turning up someplace – Since Paul McGann uttered those startling words, “I’m a Doctor – but probably not the one you were expecting,” there’s been a feeling that all bets are off – just about anything could happen in this special. Of course, we already knew that David Tennant (the 10th Doctor) and Billie Piper were returning, as well as Jemma Redgrave as Kate Stewart, plus Daleks and Zygons, and that we’d see something of the story of John Hurt’s War Doctor. That should really be enough to keep long-time fans happy. But it’s my guess that there is at least one other real-world surprise in store for the viewers. I don’t know what or who, but I’m betting there will be something. (Aside from what’s mentioned below, #8)
5. The Daleks will exterminate somebody – Just inevitable, really.
6. The Moment, but not all that other stuff – “The Moment” is supposedly what the Doctor used to finally destroy his homeworld of Gallifrey to end the Time War. I think we’ll see this in The Day of the Doctor. But I don’t think we’ll get more than a passing reference to all that other stuff that we’ve heard about from that battle, such as the Skaro Degradations, the Nightmare Child, the Horde of Travesties, the Could’ve Been King with his Army of Meanwhiles and Neverweres. Which is a pity, because they sound like they could be awesome.
7. Nothing to do with the Silence, the Great Intelligence, or related business – I think this special won’t really deal with any of the ongoing plot points or questions that Seasons 5-7 of the show have brought up, and overall failed so far to resolve. I think instead the producers will answer whatever they are going to in the upcoming Christmas special, which will see the end of Matt Smith’s tenure as the title character. Related to that, I think the show will begin with a “clean opening,” not connected to the ending of the previous story, The Name of the Doctor. Even though that ended with a “to be continued,” I think that will end up referring to just the mystery of the War Doctor, and that details of the Doctor exiting his personal timestream and leaving Trenzalore, etc., will just be glossed over.
8. The 12th Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi – I’ve read someone else’s theory that at the end of the story, the latest lead actor to be cast in the series will appear in some way that indicates that something serious is coming for the Doctor, leading into the Christmas special a month later. I think that sounds like the sort of thing we’ll see.
9. Lots of cool moments that don’t quite make sense – They will be lots of fun and super-cool when you watch it, but won’t quite add up when you try to think it through later on. This is the case for a fair amount of Moffat-written Doctor Who, and so the level of enjoyment really depends on where your priorities lay.
10. Plenty of visuals designed to maximize the 3D – In the two minute scene that was released ahead of time, there are some gratuitous images of glass breaking outward which seem specifically placed there for this reason. I imagine there will be plenty more.
11. Redemption – In some way, the Doctor will come to some emotional place of peace and redemption about his actions during the Time War. The producers have stated that the special will shift the narrative of Doctor Who into a different direction, and I think that this, plus the next point, are what they are talking about.
12. The Return of Gallifrey and / or the Time Lords – Fans of the revival series only may consider this to be a fundamental breakdown of the very concept of the show, but long-time viewers know that for 42 years of Doctor Who‘s history, the Doctor was not the last of the Time Lords, and Gallifrey was a full and thriving, though intermittently corrupt, society. So while I do not expect all of Gallifrey to abruptly return (like it did in End of Time), I wonder if we won’t have quieter indications of the Doctor’s people being reborn – maybe a new Time Lord race being created, on a new planet, or something like that. (Hey, maybe it’ll be the Zygons – they change their appearance, Time Lords change their appearance, etc. I don’t really think that – that’s more of just a wacky fan theory.)